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[Editorial] High Expectations of Neo- Conservatism, the “New Right”

[Editorial] High Expectations of Neo- Conservatism, the “New Right”

Posted November. 07, 2004 23:29,   


Recently, a new voice has been recognized from various organizations and groups from intellectuals, politics, economics and the law, which had kept quiet about presenting their critiques towards the incumbent administration since President Roh took office. Evidently, only progressive pro-Roh groups have raised their voices and been recognized, but differing voices have been under an assault as anti-reformers or old fashioned conservatists from the Cold War era. Now, Korean society is watching the emergence of neo-conservatism, a “New Right,” upholding new conservatism and liberalism and expecting its possible role as a robust critique group.

What the “New Right” sees a problem from the incumbent government is the fact that its radical policies are against liberal democracy and the spirit of the constitution. This problem of awareness stands in line with Dong-a daily’s survey result; 77.1 percent of respondents said “Yes” to the statement: “This administration is not doing well in administrating state affairs,” and 53.7 percent agreed, saying, “I don’t support President Roh’s reformative policies.”

The “New Right” points out that the government’s awareness towards North Korean and U.S. policies provokes confusion in terms of national identity. In addition, they say that unconstitutional bills, that detriment the basic rights of the nation, are enforced under the namesake of “Reform,” and they express worries over policies against market theory and international trends that will act as a brake on economic growth and redistribution. However, these presented issues usually don’t go through an active discussion process. Rather, they get cornered with debate over a political position, either right or left, and conservative or progressive divisions.

Not everything gets a free passage under the namesake of democracy and reform. The contribution made by the so-called “386 Generation” (the age group of South Koreans who were born in the Sixties, attended university in the Eighties, and are now serving in positions of power in their 30s) for establishing democracy should be fairly evaluated, but now it is a time for the re-evaluation of their past achievement; what was the motive of the democratic movement? The movement was originally geared for guaranteeing each individual’s freedom and basic rights, not for their tools for going up high on the power ladder. If the administration abuses its power without opinion gathering from the nation, self-confiding its legitimate democratic election process, it can tumble down as an “anti-liberal democracy” or “elected autocracy.”

There is no absolute unconditional right or wrong among either conservatives or progressives. Democracy that goes against the spirit of the constitution can’t be properly named as a “democracy.” This is why the existent conservatists, middle roaders, and progressives need to go through a transformation for rebirth. A neo-conservatism of the “New Right,” asserting political liberalism and market capitalism, is expected to play a major role in South Korean politics.